THE GREAT DIVIDE
Since publishing my novel Till Human Voices Wake Us, which is at its core about two sisters-in-law who unexpectedly fall in love, I have un-friended two Facebook “friends” and have apparently been un-friended by a real life friend whose views on pretty much everything are radically different from mine. The Facebook un-friendings came about because of what I deemed unacceptable postings regarding gay marriage and DOMA. Coincidentally, I published my novel at the same time the Supreme Court was deliberating over DOMA so promoting my novel spilled over into that very current event. The real life friend who basically vanished from my life was probably going to do so at some point anyway, since there wasn’t anything of weight that we could discuss, our views were so completely opposite. I think the subject matter of my novel just happened to be the last straw.
All of this got me thinking, though, about the deep divides in our society when it comes to the really profound issues facing us: gay rights, guns, immigration, racial profiling. No one has a mild opinion of any of these issues, and emotions run high on both sides of every issue. We criticize Congress for its inability to have a civil discourse, but I’m not sure any of us can anymore. My now (apparently) former friend was someone I liked as a person, but I worked so hard to avoid any controversial subject, there wasn’t much we could talk about at all. All these issues get down to who we are as human beings and how we perceive and treat each other. Maybe how divided we are is an important lesson about who we are when it comes to tolerance and acceptance. Maybe the stakes are so high now we will never achieve tolerance. I don’t have any solutions or suggestions on what to do about this great divide. But I don’t think we can deny it. Maybe if we look into that abyss long enough, we will figure out a way across.